Many nurses would argue that there is no such thing as an average nurse, and they are, of course, correct. This is a very diverse profession that attracts people from all walks of life, races, and genders. It encompasses numerous specialisms, and staff work at very different levels of responsibility. Their level of education can also vary depending on the additional training they take part in and what their ambitions are. Furthermore, as there are over four million active registered nurses in the USA, finding common ground requires a great deal of research and analysis.

What do We Know About the Average Nurse Working in the US Healthcare System?

In many ways, it would be easier to consider the qualities of an average nurse, as traits such as quick thinking, excellent problem-solving, compassion, and empathy are universal in this profession. However, if we look at the official statistics, we can find more information on other characteristics that make up an average nurse.

Why are statistics on the average nurse gathered?

Engaging nurses, hospitals, and government departments with surveys and appraisals are tough, time-consuming work, but at the same time, it is essential for the health of the nation. Studies such as those carried out by the National Nursing Workforce Survey provide crucial and time-sensitive information on the profession. This assists with workforce planning as well as informing future policies on healthcare and ensuring the well-being of US citizens. The current demographics of nurses can also provide key information for course providers such as Carson-Newman University, which has online FNP programs designed to train the next generation of advanced nurses. Students gain experience in the role through clinical placements and upon graduation are ready to play a crucial part in the healthcare system.

How old is the average nurse?

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, the average nurse is 46 years old. Furthermore, the biggest increase in registered nurses in America is those aged 50 or more. That means employers need to attract younger nurses to fill gaps in the system and get them on board before their older colleagues choose to retire. Otherwise, the years of expertise that older experienced nurses have gained cannot be passed on to the next generation. Over 20% of nurses who are currently employed across the US are planning to retire at some point within the next five years. To retain older nurses for longer, some hospitals are reducing their shifts from 12 hours down to eight hours as well as adopting staffing patterns that fit around their team’s lifestyle.

How do nurses report their race and ethnicity?

According to the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey, the vast majority of all registered nurses, 81%, reported that they were white Caucasians. The next largest group was people who self-identified as Asian; they account for 7.2% of the workforce. Between 2013 and 2020, the percentage of people who reported that they were black African Americans increased from 6% to 6.7%. The number of nurses who self-identified as Hispanic or Latinx nurses also increased; however, this is still a very underrepresented group. The National Association of Hispanic Nurses reports that out of the three million people in the United States who are registered nurses, only 3.6% are Hispanic. They explain that this is notable because, in the US, they make up 17% of the population. The association argues that with better awareness, both students and parents from the Hispanic community will recognize the opportunities available to them in every area of nursing.

What gender is the average nurse?

As, currently, just 14% of registered nurses are men, but that could all change in the coming years. The executive director of the American Association for Men in Nursing, Scott Kelnhofer, believes the figures will soon even out. In an interview he gave to US News, Mr. Kelnhofer said that more men are enrolling in undergraduate nursing programs than at any other time, but this increase is very gradual. From media coverage of the COVID-19 crisis to reports of shortages of nurses and the opportunity for stable employment, there are many factors working in combination to attract larger numbers of men into the profession.

What rate of pay does the average nurse receive?

The total that nurses can earn depends on several factors. These include a person’s level of education, the length of time they have been in the role, what part of the health industry they work in, and where they live. However, the average nurse is paid around $78,000 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In general, hospital nurses are the best paid, while those employed in care facilities tend to command a slightly lower wage.

The average nurse’s pay will also depend greatly on which state and location they are working in. Facilities in more rural parts of the US tend to employ nurses on a lower wage than those in urban areas. That is because remote clinics and hospitals tend to have lower revenue streams compared to those situated in cities or towns. Furthermore, between states, the average wage can vary by around $15k per annum. For example, in Oregon, the average registered nurse will command a wage of around $83,000; in Alabama, that figure is closer to $55,000.

The Journal of Nursing Regulation has found a gender gap in terms of pay in most areas and specialties of the profession. The average male nurse tends to be paid more than his female counterpart. There could be many reasons for this disparity, including men working more hours of overtime or the fact that they are more likely to work in departments or facilities that pay more.

What level of education have the average nurse reached?

The National Centre for Health Workforce Analysis notes that the majority of nurses trained for their position in the United States, with only 5% trained abroad. Over half of all registered nurses have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or a field related to nursing. This is in contrast to nurses who participated in a 1971 survey who reported only 23% had graduated with one. When modern nurses first enter the profession, the majority of them do not have a degree before qualifying as a nurse. So, for the average nurse, this is their first professional role. The NCHWA also notes that some nurses choose to extend their studies further. Nearly 30% go on to attain an associate degree, 17% gain a master’s degree, 6.4% earn a diploma, and 1.9% earn a doctorate.

Where was the average nurse working before training for this profession?

According to research carried out on US healthcare workers, the average registered nurse had a job in healthcare before they started their initial RN program. The same study shows that their past experience was beneficial as they earned higher wages once they had qualified. However, it’s worth remembering that many unrelated jobs can also leave a person with skills that are transferrable to nursing. Any role that involves having excellent organizational skills, caring for others, or general people skills could give someone a head start.

Does the average nurse have access to new technologies at work?

According to research: “over half of all U.S. hospitals now use some form of telehealth.” That means the average nurse is fluent in the use of this technology and uses it in many of their daily tasks. Nurses improve the experience of being in the hospital for their patients by connecting them with their families using a tablet or smartphone. They also work to coordinate the care of a patient with other departments and manage discharges through technology. In many areas of care, technology is becoming a useful tool, and it is the average nurse who will be deploying it.

Is the average nurse working full or part-time?

Statistically speaking, the average nurse works full-time. As per the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Study, around 65% of professionals in their field are taking on longer hours at work. This could be because there is a shortage of nurses and the opportunity to put in extra shifts arises frequently. Nurses are under no obligation to pick up overtime, but it’s a good way of earning more so they can save for the future or pay off loans and mortgages. The same study revealed that 35% of nurses who responded said that they were working part-time hours.

This is up by around 5% from the previous study, which was carried out in 2017. The fact that a significant percentage of people choose to work part-time in this profession is a positive sign. It means that they have flexibility when it comes to the times and shifts they work while remaining in a secure post. Some might choose to cut back on the hours they work as they get older, some do so to spend more time with their family, and others take time out to study.

Where does the average nurse work?

The average nurse works in a general or a surgical hospital; in fact, 1.7 million registered nurses are employed by this type of facility. Here, nurses take on many different roles depending on the ward and department they work in. The next most popular place of employment is a physician’s office, where nurses offer basic care and can form a bond with regular patients. This might be preferable for some as the work is less hectic.

Is the average nurse trusted by the public?

According to a poll launched by Gallup in 2022, 79% of the American public believes that nurses’ ethical standards are high. They are considered to be more honest than people in any other profession mentioned by the poll and have been ranked in this position almost every year since 1999. They were only overtaken once, in 2001, by firefighters, who reached the top spot due to their courage and service during the 9/11 attacks.

The average nurse experiences high levels of job satisfaction

A survey carried out in 2021 by American Mobile Nurses Healthcare revealed that career satisfaction was very high among registered nurses. Of those who responded, 81% said they were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the role. Moreover, the same study shows that the average nurse, or 75% of those asked, is satisfied with the treatment they give to patients and the standard of care. As a result, the majority of nurses (66%) would encourage other people to go into the profession.

How far does the average nurse walk in a day?

The average nurse needs more than their knowledge and skills to push through a shift. They are on their feet for most of the time at work and throughout a single twelve-hour shift they can travel more than four miles. Studies show that during the day, the average distance covered will be closer to five miles, while on a night shift, it will be closer to three miles. On an eight-hour shift, the average nurse walks around three miles during the day and two miles at night. If a nurse works 40 hours per week on average, or 173 hours per month, they could walk nearly 60 miles each month on average.

The exact amount of distance they cover will depend on where the supplies are kept in their ward, the distance from their patients, and what type of floor plan has been implemented. Some facilities are smaller, some have more efficient routes between wards, and others are very large with departments linked by lots of corridors.

What is the employment future of the average nurse?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that registered nurses are in high demand right now and the need for their skills will only increase over the next ten years. The profession has a growth trajectory to match all others. Each year, over 200,000 more spaces will open up in this profession. This will be combined with older nurses retiring, larger numbers of people surviving into old age, and the need to care for more patients with chronic conditions. Whether they choose to care for patients in their homes, in hospitals, or any other healthcare setting, the average nurse will be in great demand.

In 2021, there were around 3.1 million nurses employed in the USA across various facilities. By 2031, the BLS predicts this will rise by 6% to around 3.3 million. That means at least an extra 195,400 nurses will be needed within the next ten years. Therefore, the average nurse can look forward to many secure years in their chosen career.

How does the average nurse spend their time when working?

A time and motion study that involved just under 800 nurses at 36 hospitals found that throughout a single shift, 75% of the activities they reported related to nursing practice. Of these, the average nurse spent the majority of their time documenting. This made up 35% of the minutes they worked. This includes writing reports on a patient’s progress or updating their notes. The second most common activity for nurses is medical administration. Seventeen percent of the average nurse’s time is spent giving some kind of treatment to a patient, be it giving medication or inserting an IV line.

Care coordination takes up 20% of the average nurse’s time; this could involve liaising with colleagues to discuss a patient’s care plan, organizing meetings with other professionals, and speaking with the patient or their family about their progress. Nineteen percent of the average nurse’s time is spent on patient care activities such as taking samples, giving advice or support, and assisting with any personal needs. Finally, 7% of the day is devoted to patient assessments. These activities could involve giving a physical examination, monitoring a patient’s vital signs, and taking part in discharge management.

Why is it important to learn more about the average nurse?

Data on nurses and nursing can be used in a number of helpful ways. It can teach us what improvements need to be made to the practice as well as how to support our valued health professionals and positively impact their working lives. Good-quality surveys and studies reveal key trends that might otherwise be missed until it is too late. As such, this data informs decision-making for everyone from hospital managers to policymakers. Ultimately, as well as improving the experience of nurses across the nation, a deeper knowledge of the profession can also have a transformative effect on patient care.